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Fire safety

A Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) is an evaluation of a building's risk of fire on that day only. It identifies potential fire risks and makes recommendations to reduce the risk where practical.

FRAs in council housing blocks

All council housing buildings with a shared common area have a regular FRA as required by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

How FRAs are completed

An assessor inspects the building to identify things that could start a fire (ignition sources) and things that will burn (fuel sources) to measure the likelihood of a fire occurring. They then assess how existing fire precautions would perform in a fire, to limit the fire spreading and reduce potential for injury to occupants and damage to the building. The overall risk category is determined by multiplying the likelihood of a fire occurring by the severity, should it occur.

The assessor then makes recommendations to either reduce the likelihood of a fire, by removing or controlling ignition and fuel sources, or reducing the severity of a fire by installing additional fire precautions. The type of fire precautions recommended will depend on the age and height of the building, how it is constructed and who lives there.

Standards our assessors work to

Assessors follow national guidance from the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS) and the Local Government Group (LGG) to determine what level of precautions are needed at each building. They hold relevant professional qualifications and memberships to fulfil current competency requirements for undertaking assessments across our buildings.

How often FRAs are completed

We are required by law to carry out FRAs on all blocks of flats with communal areas. Risk assessments are reviewed annually for all buildings over ten storeys, sheltered and supported blocks, and community hall facilities. The review cycle for our other buildings is set by the assessor, based on the type of building, the level of management controls witnessed and their overall assessment of the risk.

We also review FRAs where we have completed works, a fire has occurred, there has been a change to statutory requirements or best practice, or a resident raises a fire safety concern to us.

Getting a copy of your building's FRA

From 2019 we will be sharing details of the latest FRAs with residents in buildings of ten stories or more, as each assessment is completed. This pilot will be extended to residents in blocks of six stories or more later in the year.

Residents living in low rise blocks can ask for a copy of their building's FRA by making a Freedom of Information request.

Significant findings

When the assessor completes his assessment, they will identify any additional actions needed to remove a hazard (something with the potential to cause harm) or improve the current level of precautions within the building. These actions are referred to as significant findings or findings.

How FRA findings or actions are prioritised

The assessor will prioritise actions for completion as high, medium or low.

High priority actions indicate where action is needed quickly to control or reduce a significant risk which could start a fire or harm someone. In some circumstances we may be unable to work on high risk actions immediately, but will put in place a temporary measure to control the risk while we carry out a permanent solution.

Medium priority actions are needed to control the risk of a fire starting or control the severity of a fire if one occurs, to reduce the overall risk profile of the building. Where actions such as removing rubbish to clear corridors or repairs to existing building parts (e.g. doors) are identified, we will seek to complete these actions as quickly as possible.

If additional fire precautions, or the upgrade or replacement of an existing precaution (e.g. lighting system or detection system) are needed, this will take us longer to organise as we will need to get statutory approval (i.e. planning, building control or listed building approvals) and consult with leaseholders.

Where possible, and if we’re happy it will not expose residents to risk, we will package fire improvement works into planned building refurbishment works.

Low priority actions are minor matters which will have little effect on the buildings risk profile but are needed to meet statutory or best practice requirements (i.e. signage or upgrade of emergency lighting system). These will be either actioned as a repair or in conjunction with a planned fire improvement scheme (as detailed above).

Why some FRA actions have not been completed

Not all actions can be completed quickly, see 'how FRA findings or actions are prioritised' above. If you have a specific concern and would like an update regarding planned works at your building, email buildingsafety@enfield.gov.uk.

Overall risk rating

As part of the assessment process we ask our assessors to provide an overall risk rating for each building. This is based on several factors, including:

  • age
  • construction
  • height
  • condition
  • how well it is managed
  • who is living there
  • the risk of fire

This overall risk rating allows us to focus on buildings which need better management or investment.

Risk rating Action
Intolerable*
The highest risk category is awarded in exceptional circumstances where immediate action is needed
Significant
Where substantial risks are found a building may receive a rating of significant. This rating is not often awarded and usually based on one or two specific issues.
Moderate
Risk reduction measures are needed within a set time period. Most council blocks will fall into this category.
Tolerable
No major additional actions are needed
Trivial
No action is needed. Very few buildings fall into this category.

*Enfield Council does not have buildings with a risk rating of intolerable.

Safety of buildings with a 'significant' risk rating

If a building's risk rating has been identified as 'significant', we will take steps to control the risks as quickly as possible and prioritise the building for fire safety improvement works.

We would not allow residents to remain in their homes if we believed there was a risk to life.

How to report a building or fire safety concern

If you're worried about fire safety or other building safety concerns, you should email buildingsafety@enfield.gov.uk.

Building safety - Our commitment to residents

Enfield Council is committed to making its housing stock the safest in London and we want to ensure our residents are updated on all the work we are doing with the government, now and in the future, to improve our housing stock and keep you safe.

We are confident that our housing stock is safe and are taking appropriate steps to minimise the risk to our residents, but we want to go well above and beyond what is required by the law, so you have absolute confidence in the safety of the buildings you live in.

In the last year, we have:

  • appointed a new team of specialist officers to ensure the correct expertise is in place to manage and deliver high quality building safety programmes
  • reviewed and introduced more extensive fire risk assessments for buildings to ensure they meet the highest possible standards
  • allocated £20 million to deliver works to make sure our buildings are safer than ever before
  • removed cladding from a number of blocks as a precaution
  • commenced a programme of flat door replacements to improve safety standards
  • installed new emergency lighting in a number of high-rise buildings and upgraded the signage in every building higher than six storeys

This year we will be:

  • creating a building safety board which will heavily involve residents to help us produce new housing management service models, home standards for high rise buildings, a residents and landlord charter and a safety engagement strategy to be launched across all of our buildings
  • communicating the findings of our most recent FRAs to residents living in blocks of ten stories or more, extending this to residents living in flats of six stories or more by 2020
  • finishing the major refurbishments of seven high rise buildings, with other smaller refurbishment projects being carried out in our remaining high-rise buildings
  • piloting the installation of a sprinkler system at one of our older persons housing blocks and looking at how best to install similar systems to the remainder of these buildings
  • installing communal smoke alarms and emergency lighting systems to flats in house conversions
  • providing residents with a 'Building safety handbook', with advice about how to prevent fires from starting and what to do if there is an emergency
  • providing training to Tenants and Resident Association (TRA) members on building safety and how to report matters of concern to the council

To find out about important information on housing in Enfield, you can sign-up to our council tenant and leaseholder digital newsletter.

There are things you can do to prevent fires and keep your home, neighbours' homes and your community safe.

Smoke alarms

Smoke alarm

All council flats should be fitted with hard wired smoke and heat alarms. If you’re a council leaseholder, you can contact the London Fire Brigade who can fit battery operated smoke alarms in your home for free, as part of their home fire safety visit service. Leaseholders who sublet their home must make sure smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are installed, as this is a legal requirement.

You should test your alarm weekly by pressing the small button marked ‘test’. If working correctly, the alarm will sound for 10 to 20 seconds then stop. Once a month it is also advisable to run a vacuum nozzle (if you can reach safely) over the alarm, to remove dust or cobwebs.

If your flat doesn't have a smoke alarm, you think the alarm is broken or it starts to ‘beep’ (this means the backup battery needs replacing), you should request a repair.

Keep communal areas clean and safe

Box near a front door

Communal areas must be kept clear of all personal items and rubbish at all times. This is important to ensure residents can get out quickly and safely if there is a fire or other emergency. This will also help emergency services work safely within the building. For more information on our communal areas policy view our clean and safe policy (PDF).

Flat entrance fire doors

Fire door

Nearly all flats are fitted with fire doors or fire door sets. Fire doors are a critical safety feature, as they are designed to prevent a fire spreading throughout a building. If a flat door fails to work correctly, it will let smoke and flames move around the building and could prevent residents from escaping.

It is therefore important residents don’t:

  • remove or tamper with the closing device (this ensures the door closes correctly to prevent fire and smoke escaping in an emergency)
  • change their flat door without our consent
  • damage their flat door, which includes:
    • damaging the frame by forcing it open
    • changing the lock, letterbox or hinges
    • installing additional items to the door, such as extra locks, a viewer or door chain
    • installing an external security gate

If your door is damaged, does not close on its own (i.e. is self-closing), or you have concerns over its condition, you should request a repair.

It is unlikely your flat has a fire door if:

  • you access your flat directly from the street
  • it is on the ground floor and you don’t walk through an enclosed building entrance area
  • you live in a purpose-built block of flats and access your home from an open balcony walkway, and on leaving your home you could turn left or right to reach a staircase or exit door

Barbecues (BBQs)

Barbeques

Council residents are not allowed to use BBQs inside their homes, including balconies or roof terraces. The storage and use of contained gases (i.e. Calor gas) is also prohibited in council properties. If your flat has a private garden, you may use a wood or charcoal fueled BBQ.

For BBQ safety tips, visit London Fire Brigade.

Smoking

No smoking sign

Smoking is not allowed in communal areas of buildings.

If you’re a smoker and would like support to stop smoking, you can find help by visiting NHS quit smoking.

Electrical items

Tumble dryer

There have been many fire incidents caused by electrical installations and appliances over recent years. Manufacturers regularly recall products for safety issues.

You can check for product recall updates by visiting product recall campaign. You can also keep up to date with product recall and safety notices by registering your electrical appliances directly with the manufacturer (details supplied when you purchase) or visit register my appliance

For advice on preventing electrical fires visit London Fire Brigade.

Bonfires and fireworks

Bonfire

Residents are not allowed to hold bonfires and firework displays on council housing estates. For everyone’s safety we recommend you attend an organised event. However if your flat has its own garden where you’re planning to set off fireworks, you should visit London Fire Brigade for safety tips.

Cooking safely

Saucepan

Cooking is one of the major causes of fires in the home.

For safety tips visit London Fire Brigade.

Electrical heaters

Electric heater

Electrical heaters can be a great way to warm up a room quickly but can cause fires if used incorrectly. For advice on how to keep warm and stay safe, visit London Fire Brigade.

If you use an electric blanket, we recommend you visit London Fire Brigade for advice on how to reduce the risk of fire.

Residents are not allowed to install open fires in their homes.

If you’re finding it difficult to heat your home due to financial problems, you should contact us for help. You can also visit Citizens Advice for information about grants and benefits available to help you pay your energy bills, or you can contact your energy company for advice.

If you would struggle in a power cut, talk to UK Power Networks about the Priority Services Register. This is a private list of customers who need extra help due mobility issues, vision or hearing impairments, or because they are older or unwell. You can find out more and sign up by visiting UK Power Networks. If there is a power cut, call freephone 105 for help and advice (available 24 hours a day).

Candles

Candles

Residents are not allowed to use candles, tea lights or incense burners in communal areas. If you use these items inside your home, visit London Fire Brigade for safety advice.

Celebrations

Fairy lights

When celebrating a religious festival or birthday, it’s important you follow these safety tips:

  • Check your fairy lights carry the British Safety Standard sign
  • Paper decorations can burn easily, so don’t attach them to lights or heaters
  • Never place candles, tea lights or incense burners near fabrics or decoration that can catch light easily
  • Keep candles, lighters and matches out of children’s reach
  • Never leave burning candles unattended
  • Never overload electrical sockets
  • Always switch fairly lights off and unplug them before you go to bed
  • Most fires start in the kitchen, so avoid leaving cooking unattended
  • Avoid cooking if you have been drinking alcohol
  • Make sure your family and visitors know how to escape in an emergency
  • Make sure cigarettes are put out properly

We request that residents don’t build temporary structures (e.g. Sukkahs) on their balconies or in communal areas. You should limit festive decorations to within your homes.

Sleep safe

Bed at night time

Most major house fires occur at night when people are asleep, so you should carry out some fire safety checks before you go to bed.

Make sure you follow our guidance for testing your smoke alarm. Having a working smoke alarm could save your life.

For more information on home fire safety, view our prevent a fire (PDF). You can also visit the London Fire Brigade's home safety pages or view their fire safety in the home (PDF).

If you live in a council managed block of flats or a house which has been converted into flats, it is important you know and understand what to do in an emergency.

Know your plan

All new council tenants are given a copy of the fire evacuation strategy for their new home. This is sometimes called a 'fire action plan'. This plan tells you what to do if there is a fire in your home or other part of the building. It is important you read it carefully and understand. If you have any questions you should speak to your housing officer.

All residents living in council managed properties must be able to follow the evacuation plan for their building and be able to leave their home if required, without assistance. If you, someone you live with or a neighbour might find it difficult to escape in an emergency, you should ask your housing officer for a risk assessment to be completed. See information on person centric risk assessment below.

Fire action notices can be found on the ground floor and adjacent to lifts (where provided) in all blocks and provide information to residents and visitors on what to do in the event of a fire.

Living in a block of flats

In accordance with national guidance, all council managed purpose-built blocks of flats operate a defend in place, commonly referred to as 'stay put, if safe' policy. If anything changes, we will let residents know in writing.

For more information, view the home fire safety guide for purpose-built flats and maisonettes (PDF), or visit London Fire Brigade and watch their stay put advice video.

Living in a house converted to flats

Flat conversions or converted street properties have a different fire evacuation strategy or plan to purpose-built blocks of flats. This is because the structure of the building is unable to prevent fire spreading between flats, as designed to do in a block of flats.

The fire action plan for all converted properties is 'full evacuation'. This means if there is a fire in your home or another part of the building, all residents must leave immediately.

For more information, view our fire evacuation strategy for flat conversions (PDF) or visit London Fire Brigade.

Living in sheltered or supported accommodation for older persons

As with purpose-built blocks of flats, older persons accommodation or specialised housing accommodation is designed and constructed to prevent fires from spreading internally.

The evacuation plan for our specialised housing blocks is 'stay put, if safe', unless residents have been informed otherwise.

For more information, view our fire evacuation strategy for specialised housing units (PDF).

Person centric risk assessments - supporting residents to live in their homes

If you or someone in your household might find it difficult to leave your home in an emergency, or you're concerned about a vulnerable neighbour, you should contact your housing officer and request a 'person centric risk assessment'. As your landlord we have a duty to ensure all our residents are safe in their homes.

One of our officers will then arrange to visit you at home to talk about your concerns.

With your consent we may arrange for a follow up visit with one of our fire risk advisors or officers from the London Fire Brigade. This is to talk about what steps need to be taken to keep you safe.

Visit how you can prevent fires for advice on staying safe in your home.